Birding Online: December 2020

Birding Specials Editor

Welcome to the Birder’s Guide to Basics Special Issue of Birding, which I hope you’ll agree is anything but basic! Our goal with this issue is to present foundational information that beginners and seasoned birders alike can use to make their birding more enjoyable.

What do you need to get started? Sharon Stiteler shares with us her tips and suggestions, which are based on her extensive experience working with beginners. I’ll definitely be consulting her article when I buy gifts for my bird-curious nephew. Speaking of youngsters like him, smartphones are increasingly common tools used by young birders. Hannah Floyd tells us how she has used her smartphone in combination with Instagram and iNaturalist to cultivate her interest in the natural world. For folks who aren’t used to spending time away from civilization, Sabrina Hepburn’s tips for outdoor safety while birding alone are worth reading. And hummingbird expert Sheri Williamson shares her expansive knowledge about how to attract glitterati to your garden.

In 2020, those of us who are used to traveling to seek birds have had to modify our activities. So we asked a collection of birders from across the U.S. and Canada to tell us how they are enjoying and learning from their local birds while in the midst of a global pandemic.

Finally, we also have online-only content in the form a book review: Julia Zarankin reviews The Bird Way by Jennifer Ackerman.

As always, we welcome and depend on you to let us know what you did and didn’t like in this issue, so that we may start planning for the future. If there’s a topic missing that you feel deserves coverage, please pass it along. Even better: Write about it yourself for the next issue! And please consider sharing this issue by giving your hard copy to a friend when you’re done.

Once again, I invite you to make your voice heard within the birding community. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at with your ideas for future content. Now let’s get out there and continue our work to make the world a more verdant and equitable place for all.

Thank you, stay safe, and good birding!